PiN Student Life
Since 1984 PiN has held a student-run retreat at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, the weekend after Labor Day each year. Students stay in cottages, prepare group meals, listen to talks by more senior students, and spend time on the beach or visiting Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket.
PiN students help organize a poster session each September. PiN rents the Courtyard Café in the Warren Alpert Building from 5:00 to 8:00pm, and provides appetizers and drinks for attendees. Posters are presented by 40-50 PiN-affiliated labs. In addition, the Kirby Neurobiology Center at Boston Children’s Hospital hosts on a poster session for the incoming class, which all PiN students are welcome to attend (also in September). And, the Center for Brain Science on Harvard's Cambridge campus hosts on a poster session for incoming PiN students (again in September).
The biennial Spring Symposium, also organized by students, is a more formal event which includes everyone in the program. A student committee selects a developing or very active area of neuroscience investigation and invites 3 or 4 prominent scientists working in that area to come and present their research. The symposium is open to the scientific community, and there is a dinner with small group discussions open to PiN faculty and students only.
Every year in May, PiN students convene with the program directors over a catered lunch in the Courtyard Cafe to debrief on the past academic year. Students share feedback on all aspects of the program that informs program development in the year(s) ahead.
Student Groups & Clubs
PiN encourages students to form student groups, both for academic support and for community building. Current groups include Underrepresented Scholars in Neuroscience (USN) and Women in Neuroscience (WIN).
Nocturnal Journal Club
The student-run Nocturnal Journal Club meets biweekly throughout the academic year. Students volunteer to present papers and give data talks. Dinner and beer are provided. NJC provides a friendly environment for students to hone their presentation skills and to focus their scientific interests. PiN strongly encourages first-year students to attend; NJC is a great opportunity for new students to get up in front of an audience of peers and to become part of the PiN community.
Computational Methods Club
We are a group of students and post-docs that meet biweekly to discuss and learn about methods in computational and theoretical neuroscience and machine learning. Some topics we have covered recently are control theory, compressed sensing, reinforcement learning, sparse coding, and Bayesian networks. We encourage attendance from those of all backgrounds.
Mentorship & Outreach
Peer Mentorship Program
All first-year PiN students are paired with a more senior peer mentor within the program. PiN peer mentors complete training in culturally aware mentorship, mental health first aid, Title IX, and navigating student resources across the University. Peer mentors meet with their mentees once a month throughout the G1 year and organize regular themed hang-outs around topics like making the most of your rotations, choosing a lab, preparing for your PQE, time management, and work-life balance in grad school.
PiN students have the opportunity to mentor post-baccalaureate trainees in lab research, grant writing, and generally preparing for and applying to graduate school.
PiN organizes peer mentorship to help support students through the NSF GRFP application process.
HMS Goldenson Building
DEPARTMENT OF NEUROBIOLOGY
PiN students are invited to join all Department of Neurobiology events, including the Monday lunchtime seminar series, Friday afternoon pizza talks, Friday beer hour, the annual holiday party, and the annual departmental retreat, which gives them the opportunity to mix & mingle with department faculty and postdocs. PiN students have also taken on leadership roles in the Departmental Committees on Diversity & Inclusion, under the scope of NeuroDEI, working to advance a culture of inclusion & belonging across the department and building community along the way.
DMS & GSAS
PiN students benefit from DMS-wide groups, such as BGSO (Biomedical Graduate Student Organization), which organizes an annual harbor cruise in the fall, ski trips in the winter, and a monthly happy hour, and MBSH (Minority Biomedical Scientists of Harvard), which hosts a monthly happy hour among other events. There are many other student groups focused on professional development and the advancement of diversity, equity & inclusion at Harvard.
PiN students also find rich resources for community building through the GSAS Student Center and the numerous GSAS identity and interest groups (see GSAS Engage for a full listing of events and student organizations).